Jean Cocteau


Two Poems from Clair-Obscur                            

Translated from the French by María Espinosa




                  The Young Woman



                  What do you want me to do

                  How is this done

                  The young woman is facing me

                  While she's in profile


                  How is this done

                  She has only one eye facing me

                  She has two in profile

                  What do you want me to do


                  What do you want me to do

                  How is this done

                  Her face is a mirror

                  Which reflects her profile.






                  The Wash



                  She goes behind the linen

                  When her shadow goes before.

                  If her shadow changes sides

                  She shortens she lengthens

                  She puts her skirt in the wind.





English language translation copyright ©2006 by Green Integer and María Espinosa.


Jean Cocteau was born in Maisons-Lafitte into a wealthy Parisian family. He left home at age 15, and in his early 20s became associated with Proust, Gide, Maurice Barrès and others. But it was Picasso’s influence that most changed his writing. Cocteau wrote numerous fictions, poems, plays and essays, and made important films of the 1930s, including The Blood of a Poet and Beauty and the Beast.